What to Expect in Allied Health

The term "Allied Health" refers to the large number of medical professionals who provide direct patient care in a clinical environment, but who are not doctors or nurses. Allied healthcare professionals include medical assistants, as well as technologists and technicians of all sorts.

There's a huge variety of allied healthcare professionals in practically all areas of the healthcare industry, such as cardiology, radiology, surgery, and more. The majority of these workers are found in hospitals and large clinics, but some work in smaller physician's offices. Still other allied healthcare professionals work in laboratory settings, often within a hospital or clinic.

Some examples of jobs in allied health include: chemotherapy technician, cytotechnologist, dialysis technician, EKG technician, medical assistant, medical lab tech, perfusionist, pharmacy tech, phlebotomist, radiology tech, and ultrasound technician.

Educational Requirements

The specific educational requirements for a job in allied health will vary based on the position you're seeking, and the educational program you're attending. The majority of allied health jobs require at least an associate's degree, which typically takes 2 years to complete. Many allied healthcare professionals earn their degree online or through night classes, while also working full-time. In these cases, the program may take longer than 2 years to complete.

Job Description

Because allied healthcare professionals are responsible for direct patient interaction and care, strong people skills are a must. Additionally, many applied healthcare professionals (such as technologists or assistants) are needed to help doctors and nurses in their work. As such, it's important to be able to work as a member of a team, and to take direction well.

Technicians and technologists must be able to operate complex, high-tech equipment in the course of their work. This might include radiological equipment used for scanning and diagnosing issues, or specific surgical equipment used during an operation. If you hope to become an allied healthcare professional, you must be comfortable with the idea of using specialized medical equipment. Of course, you'll be taught how to use this equipment in the course of your training, but comfort with technology will be a big advantage to you before you begin.

Schedule and Pay

Like the educational requirements, the specifics of scheduling and pay vary greatly across positions.

Most allied health jobs have shift-based schedules. This usually means that workers are paid per hour or per shift, rather than by a set salary. This could be an advantage or a disadvantage. On the up side, an hourly pay scale may offer a degree of flexibility to work as much or as little as you want and get paid accordingly. On the other hand, you may be required to work a minimum amount of hours each week, with little room for flexibility.

The pay rates for allied healthcare professionals vary depending on amount of experience, how much time you spend working each week, and your employer's policies. The majority of allied healthcare professionals, however, earn between $30,000 and $60,000 each year, plus benefits.

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